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7 Morning Habits to Increase Your Productivity For the Day

7 Morning Habits to Increase Your Productivity For the Day
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There is a lot of advice online about being more productive and time management apps are popping up by the day. This is because more people than ever are facing sleep deprivation and often insomnia, due to the ease of access to communication tools and technology. Sleep is one of the most important things in our lives as it can increase our learning speed, helps us remember more information, and allow us to be happier individuals in general.

But… the biggest bottleneck that few of us attempt to improve is our morning habits. If you want to become more productive and effective during your day, then you need to optimize your morning habits. How we structure and spend the first few hours of each day will determine how the rest of our day will play out, and how effective we can be in our lives.

Luckily, there are simple and easy-to-implement habits that you can do today to increase your productivity for the day, and for the rest of your life.

1. Wake up next to sunlight

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    Studies have shown that those lacking sleep and suffering from insomnia is mostly due to artificial light confusing our internal clocks. When a group of individuals suffering from sleep deprivation went on a camping trip without exposure to artificial light or alarm clocks, their sleep inertia rapidly disappeared within days.

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    The conclusion from researchers was that the best way to fall sleep sleep and improve the quality of your sleep is to be next to natural sunlight, which is also helpful for waking up in the morning naturally.

    2. Meditate

    There’s a lot of advice online on how to approach meditation, and it can seem overwhelming to someone who’s never experienced it. The truth is: there’s no one way to meditate. Everyone has a different approach.

    While the methods of meditation vary, the benefits are clear. Meditation reduces our anxiety levels, increases our productivity, and even improves our memoriesStudies have shown that after a 20-minute meditation session, our brains are more focused and less distracted, which allows us to remove multi-tasking, achieve our goals for the day faster, and become a top performer.

    3. Automate your decisions

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      We only have so much willpower in a typical day. In order to effectively use our willpower towards the tasks that matter, it’s better to minimize the number of decisions we make in the morning. Most of us go through the same routines in the morning, but there are always routines we can automate.

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      Can you picking out your outfit before bedtime, eat the same breakfast each morning, waking up earlier to avoid route changes, and more? This may seem boring at first, but you’ll be surprised how morning automation can provide you the flexibility to be more productive and spontaneous throughout the rest of your day.

      4. The “One Thing”

      According to Gary Keller, the author of The One Thing, the best way to prioritize our never ending to-do lists is to pick “the Domino Effect”. The Domino Effect is when a task that you complete or an action you take, will make everything else on your list easier to complete or even unnecessary.

      For example, if your goal is to learn Spanish before travelling to South America this year, is it worth paying a $1,000 to go to a language school for 3 months to learn everything about the language? Or is it better to focus your time, energy, and money on learning the common Spanish phrases you’ll use with a native speaking professional teacher from South America for less than $150? The second is the right choice.

      Take a look at your to-do list. How necessary or important are each of the tasks in achieving your end goals? Then pick only one from the list that will create a Domino Effect for you, and block out time on your calendar to achieve it.

      5. Do the hardest thing first

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        As we mentioned before, most human beings (unless you’re Elon Musk), have a limited amount of willpower, creativity, and energy in a day. This study done on the human brain shows that our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for creativity, is the most active when we wake up. This explains why creatives, such as writers or designers, do their best work early in the morning upon waking up.

        If this is true, then we must organize our morning schedule to do the hardest, if not the most creative task first thing in the morning. This allows us to most effectively use our brain capabilities and free up brain space to complete tasks that require less creativity or willpower throughout the rest of the day, such as editing, sending emails, phone calls, etc.

        6. Prepare the night before

        While this is a post about morning habits, how we spend our night has a massive impact on our productivity the following day. The biggest impact is preparation. Before you head off to bed, take 15-20 minutes to pick your most important tasks and schedule them in your calendar. The reason why scheduling is so important is because you can manage for time and how long a single task will take, which is very difficult to do on a typical to-do list.

        7. Hot and Cold Hydrotherapy

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          Although not common in North America, Cold and Hot Hydrotherapy is enjoyed not only as a luxury in Finland, but a necessity. Several studies show that hot and cold hydrotherapy has multiple benefits for our health, including reduced stress, stronger immune system, increased ability to burn fat, and even fighting depression.

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          The method is rather simple. Simply shower and wash yourself the way you would normally in normal temperature water. Then, crank the nozzle to the coldest possible temperature and wait for 30 seconds. From there, crank the nozzle to the hottest possible temperature you can handle and hold for 30 seconds. And lastly, go back to cold temperature, and hold for 30 seconds.

          Fair warning: if you’re not used to shocking your body in the morning, this may be a difficult approach to adopt at first, but it becomes easier and easier over repetition, like most things. This wakes you up quickly and effectively.

          Now Your Turn

          Which of the morning routines we’ve outlined will you try out?
          What were your key takeaways from the morning routines of the successful?
          We’d love to hear it in the comments below.

          More by this author

          Sean Kim

          Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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          Last Updated on July 21, 2021

          The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

          The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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          No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

          Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

          Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

          A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

          Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

          In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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          From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

          A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

          For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

          This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

          The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

          That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

          Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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          The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

          Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

          But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

          The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

          The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

          A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

          For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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          But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

          If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

          For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

          These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

          For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

          How to Make a Reminder Works for You

          Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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          Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

          Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

          My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

          Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

          I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

          More on Building Habits

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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          Reference

          [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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